Four FedEx boxes were opened Thursday afternoon in a conference room, revealing the firms that submitted bids to conduct a feasibility study to help the University of Arkansas at Little Rock decide whether it will pursue restarting a football program.
UALR announced July 12 that it would conduct such a study, which could result in the rebirth of a football program that played its final season in 1955.
Desiree Taggard, UALR's interim director of procurement services, pulled out the spiral-bound packets and read the four firm's names: Collegiate Consulting, College Sports Solutions, Brailsford & Dunlavey and Conventions, Sports & Leisure International.
The latter arrived in a box marked with the red-printed word "OVERNIGHT."
Each of the firms have extensive backgrounds in athletic development projects, and the Atlanta-based College Sports Solutions worked on a similar football feasibility study with Wichita State University in 2016.
That study cost $60,000, according to The Wichita Eagle, and the university has not pursued a football program since finding the start-up facility costs were more than $40 million and football budgets started around $6 million annually.
UALR would only permit access to the names of the firms that submitted bids, citing the part of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act that exempts public disclosure of "files that, if disclosed would give advantage to competitors or bidders and records maintained by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission related to any business entity's planning, site location, expansion, operations, or product development and marketing, unless approval for release of such records is granted by the business entity."
Each package contained two separate packets which, according to the university's requirements, contained a technical proposal and a pricing proposal.
An evaluation committee will recommend a firm for legislative approval by Aug. 31, and Taggard said the committee will review all the technical proposals before examining the pricing proposals.
Chancellor Andrew Rogerson said in July that the estimated total cost of the study, which will take 6 to 7 months, will be under $100,000 and that the school will divide equal parts of the cost with the city of Little Rock and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
UALR's share, Rogerson said, will be paid with private funds from the athletic department.
A focus of the study will be how UALR can take in enough revenue to cover the cost of running a football program, which was a central point of College Sport Solutions in the Wichita State study.
The firm also provided an estimated timeline with a plan for the football team to begin play in four years.
Collegiate Consulting, also based in Atlanta, did a feasibility study in 2011 with Appalachian State to help it decide whether it wanted to seek membership in a conference that sponsored football in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.
The firm compared Appalachian State's football stadium and athletic budgets with FBS football programs and found that the school's budget would need an increase of $6 million annually to competitively field teams in an FBS conference.
Appalachian State joined the Sun Belt Conference on July 1, 2014.
Brailsford & Dunlavey, headquartered in Washington D.C., provided the feasibility study that helped the city of Amarillo, Texas, win the bid for the San Diego Padres' Class AA affiliate, which will relocate from San Antonio in 2019.
Conventions, Sports and Leisure International, which has offices in Dallas and Minneapolis, provided the 2012 feasibility study to help Colorado State University plan its eventual 42,000 seat, $246 million on-campus stadium.
CSU will open its football season at the new stadium Aug. 26 against Oregon State, and the game has officially been declared a sellout.
Sports on 08/11/2017